The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team made strides against Drake and came close against Indiana State, but the fruits of their labor were rewarded in a big way on Sunday afternoon as the team entered the Missouri Valley Conference win column with a 93-49 triumph over Evansville. All 10 healthy players scored points for Valpo, which enjoyed its most lopsided win against a Division-I opponent in nine years.
How It Happened
- Evansville (2-15, 0-6) built up an early lead after a pair of triples provided an 8-2 edge at the 8:05 mark of the first quarter. Valpo scored six straight to tie it, then eventually grabbed an 11-10 advantage midway through the first on a Hannah Schaub (Brooklyn Park, Minn. / Park Center) 3-pointer. Valpo would hold the lead for the game’s duration.
- That lead quickly enlarged to eight thanks to an 8-0 run capped by an Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) triple. By the end of the quarter, Valpo was in front 25-14.
- Valpo knocked down 10 of its 17 first-quarter shots (58.8 percent) including five 3s. The team held Evansville to 3-of-15 (20 percent) from the floor.
- A six-point Valpo run featuring four points by Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) expanded the lead to 16 with 7:30 left in the second. Another seven-point burst had the lead as high as 21 and Valpo went into halftime with a 19-point advantage at 47-28.
- A 9-0 Valpo run got the second half going, allowing the lead to reach 28 with 6:45 left in the third.
- Valpo didn’t miss a field goal attempt in the first seven minutes of the second half, going 8-for-8 during that stretch. By the time the team had its first miss after halftime, the lead was up to 34 points.
- Any third quarter woes that may have arisen in previous games this season became a distant memory on Sunday as Valpo shot 86 percent (12-14) in the third and outscored the Purple Aces 35-7. Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) knocked down all four shots she attempted in that quarter and outscored Evansville on her own with 11 points in that period alone.
- A pair of Valpo players scored their first collegiate points on Sunday. Valpo volleyball star turned basketball walk-on Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich. / Notre Dame Prep) scored her first points in the most Katherine Carlson way possible – on a hustle play. She crashed the board off her own 3-point miss and converted the put-back. Carlson finished the day with five points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.
- Nicole Johanson (Herscher, Ill. / Herscher) knocked down her first career basket with 5:59 left in the game, expanding the lead to 50 points at 88-38.
Inside the Game
- The 44-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest against a Division-I opponent since an 80-28 win over Youngstown State on Feb. 13, 2010.
- This also marked the largest margin of victory in a conference game in the MVC this season. The only MVC team that has a game this year with a larger margin of victory is Drake, a 48-point win over Clarke (NAIA) on Dec. 4.
- Valpo shot 58.3 percent, the team’s best clip since Dec. 15, 2017 vs. IU Northwest (.590) and best against a D-1 opponent since March 8, 2014 against Wright State (.596). Sunday’s performance cracked the Top 10 in program history for single-game field goal percentage, ranking 10th all-time.
- Hales matched a career high with 21 points, equaling a mark established on Dec. 2, 2018 against Eastern Illinois. She knocked down eight of her nine field-goal attempts, tying for sixth in program history for single-game field-goal percentage with a minimum of eight attempts. She became the first Valpo player to crack the program record book in that area since Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) went 10-of-11 on Dec. 30, 2015 at Northern Kentucky. The eight made field goals also marked Hales’ career high.
- Ellenson also reached a career high with 16 points. She had reached 15 twice this season, including Friday against Indiana State.
- All 10 healthy players scored at least two points and had at least one rebound.
- Hales and Ellenson were joined in double figures by Hamlet (17) and Schofield (13). Hamlet knocked down seven of her eight field-goal tries while pulling down a team-high six rebounds.
- Schaub eclipsed her season high in assists with six, while Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville) had a career-high four steals.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mary Evans
“I couldn’t be happier for this group of young women. They work hard every single day. They do anything I ask of them and show a willingness to come in and do extra work. I’m excited they got the reward they deserve for all of their hard work.”
“It was great to see so many players contribute. Our typical contributors were out there scoring, sharing the basketball, playing defense and rebounding. Some players who don’t always get an opportunity to play not only scored, but also made other contributions. I thought KC’s (Carlson’s) effort on offensive rebounding was awesome. Every time we shot, she was flying in there, and that’s a tremendous quality for someone to have.”
“Any time you win, you have a good feeling. Any time you find success, your confidence grows. Evansville started out playing us one way defensively and switched to another way, and we were able to make in-game adjustments. Our players did a great job locking into the scouting report defensively, and it was probably our best defensive effort of the year. There’s a lot to build on, but we’ve got to come back in on Tuesday ready to work.”
“I continued to challenge our team to play Valparaiso basketball for 40 minutes. We learned on Friday night that every possession matters. Any possession could cost you something at the end of a game. I challenged them to make every possession count and do their best to get stops and scores. They really bought into that tonight, and that’s how good teams win.”
Valpo (5-12, 1-4) will be back in action at 6 p.m. on Friday for a date with Southern Illinois. The game will air on ESPN3 and can be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available.